During what was supposed to be a fun weekend catching up with some friends I hadn't seen in a while, I had a scary experience that I'll never forget. I learned a valuable lesson, and maybe you can get something from this story too.

My buddy has a summer home on Lake Winnipesaukee. Soon after I arrived on Saturday, three of us headed out into the water in kayaks and a canoe. My friend with the canoe decided to pull up to a small island in the middle of the lake for a break. But soon after, his canoe slid into the water. I went after it with my kayak. I tried for a while to get back to the island with the canoe, but kept getting pushed further and further back by the current. After I while, I decided it might be easier to get into the canoe. But when I attempted to do that, I ended up tipping both of them over. So now I'm in the middle of the lake, in 46 degree water, hanging onto both the canoe and the kayak, which are both almost completely full of water. At this point, I'm so far away from my friends that we can hear each other, but I can't understand what they're saying.

Here's the part that I'm incredibly ashamed to admit. I wasn't wearing a life jacket.

I consider myself to be a pretty strong swimmer, and I didn't think we'd be going that far out. But I was wrong. And now, I'm in the middle of the lake, treading water, hanging onto the sinking canoe and kayak, wondering what to do next.

Luckily, a man and his children came by in a boat just at the right time. They scooped me up and brought me to shore, then went back and got my buddies and the boats.

I hate to think about what would have happened had he not been there. It's still early in the season, so there aren't as many boaters on the big lake as there will be in the coming months. The water was incredibly cold, and I was too far to swim to shore. I'm incredibly lucky that he came when he did.

Never again will I be an idiot and go out on the water without a life jacket. And if you're ever debating whether or not you need to put one on, please remember my story...and just do it.

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